Meth Ado About
Nothing? Flavored Meth and Cheese Heroin Stories Smack of
Police confiscated this "cheese heroin" that had been wrapped in notebook paper.
It sounds like a recipe for a bellyache: 'strawberry quik' and 'cheese' heroin. Sure enough, these purported new drug fads have been giving prevention experts indigestion, but the agita is mostly over fears that overreacting officials and media could inadvertently cause a trend where none exists -- and that attention on these 'flavor of the month' drugs could distract from larger alcohol and other drug problems confronting youth. (Editor: Did anyone ever think that maybe the meth trade is running their own PR campaign to divert attention from the major problems associated the illicit drug enforcement, prevention and treatment?)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is calling on the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to add so-called "cheese" heroin (also known as Chees, Cheez, Chez, Chz, Keso, Kso or Queso because it loooks like parmesan cheese) to its National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, even though experts agree that the black-tar heroin-Tylenol PM mix is a problem so far limited only to the Dallas area.
The Dallas Morning News reported June 15 that Cornyn said he was worried about the appeal of "cheese" to young users. "This is a real danger to children in the Dallas area and other places," he said. About 20 deaths in the Dallas area have been attributed to the drug.
But even some Dallas-area officials concerned about the drug question the wisdom of adding it to the national media campaign. "You could inadvertently end up with a double-edged sword," said officer Jeremy Liebbe of the Dallas Independent School District police. "National news media coverage of cheese has pros and cons. It could inadvertently create curiosity. You get a lot of drug phenomenon that pop up in the country that die out.
"Cheese is a significant threat in Dallas and one that
needs to be dealt with aggressively. But there are probably
more cost-effective ways to deal with it than one of a
national scope like the media campaign," said ONDCP
spokesperson Jennifer de Vallance.
"Cheese," a deadly form of heroin targeted at teenage users, could soon rank alongside marijuana and methamphetamines as a primary focus of federal drug education programs.
Prompted by the more than 20 Dallas County deaths attributed to cheese since 2005, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is pushing legislation that would make the drug a mix of black tar heroin and cold medicine or sleeping pills a national priority.
Mr. Cornyn wants heroin, and specifically cheese heroin, added to the list of illegal drugs specifically addressed by education and prevention efforts of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. "This is a real danger to children in the Dallas area and other places," he said Thursday.
He said cheese is of particular concern because it's cheap and children don't realize it's heroin because of the innocuous name. He also cited reports that it has been used as a gang recruitment tool.
Adding cheese to the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which focuses on preventing drug use among 9- to 18-year-olds, could help keep it from spreading, Mr. Cornyn said.
But not everyone agrees. Some drug experts worry that elevating cheese to a national concern might spread interest in a drug that's primarily just a problem in Dallas County at this point.
"You could inadvertently end up with a double-edged sword," said Jeremy Liebbe, an officer with the Dallas Independent School District police. "National news media coverage of cheese has pros and cons. It could inadvertently create curiosity.
"You get a lot of drug phenomenon that pop up in the country that die out," he added.
The White House Office of Drug Control Policy also sees cheese heroin as a serious but local problem that might be better addressed through parental education than through anti-drug advertisements in a national campaign.
"How do you raise awareness of a problem without informing teens that would not otherwise have become aware of the threat?" said Jennifer de Vallance, a spokeswoman for the office. "The campaign is designed to be national in scope, largely focused on substance abuse in general but also addressing the substances teens most often use."
The campaign focuses mainly on marijuana, prescription drug abuse and underage drinking, Ms. de Vallance said. It targets methamphetamines in regions of the country where use is highest.
"Cheese is a significant threat in Dallas and one that needs to be dealt with aggressively," she said. "But there are probably more cost-effective ways to deal with it than one of a national scope like the media campaign.
"We will make sure we do all we can at every level to make sure the problem doesn't spread and the problem in Dallas is reduced," she added.
So far, cheese heroin hasn't spread past the Dallas region, said Steve Robertson, a Washington-based special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. But "it wouldn't take long to spread," he said.
Cheese heroin, flavored methamphetamines such as "strawberry quick" and other drugs aimed at young users are of special concern to the DEA, Agent Robertson said.
"Cheese and strawberry quick are classic examples of how drug traffickers take their poisons and change the appearance, color, taste or name" to market to teens and younger children, he said. "No matter how they package it, no matter how they try to change it, cheese is heroin, and it can destroy your life."
Swansea Love Story: An award-winning look at a generation lost to heroin, as told through the tragic love story of Amy and Cornelius.
In 2009, Swansea drug agencies reported a 180 percent
rise in heroin use, and it's visible on the city's streets.
Early one morning we meet a young, homeless couple named Amy
and Cornelius in a city centre alley. As heroin-addicted
alcoholics, they're smack in the middle of two of South
Wales's most harrowing epidemics.
A cheap, highly addictive drug known as "cheese heroin" has killed 21 teenagers in the Dallas area over the past two years, and authorities say they are hoping they can stop the fad before it spreads across the nation.
"Cheese heroin" is a blend of so-called black tar Mexican heroin and crushed over-the-counter medications that contain the antihistamine diphenhydramine, found in products such as Tylenol PM, police say. The sedative effects of the heroin and the nighttime sleep aids make for a deadly brew.
"A double whammy -- you're getting two downers at once," says Dallas police detective Monty Moncibais. "If you take the body and you start slowing everything down, everything inside your body, eventually you're going to slow down the heart until it stops and, when it stops, you're dead."
Steve Robertson, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, says authorities are closely monitoring the use of "cheese" in Dallas.
Trying to keep the drug from spreading to other cities, the DEA is working with Dallas officials to raise public awareness about the problem. Authorities also are trying to identify the traffickers, Robertson says.
"We are concerned about any drug trend that is new because we want to stop it," he says.
Why should a parent outside Dallas care about what's happening there?
Robertson says it's simple: The ease of communication via the Internet and cell phones allows a drug trend to spread rapidly across the country.
"A parent in New York should be very concerned about a drug trend in Dallas, a drug trend in Kansas City, a drug trend anywhere throughout the United States," he says.
Middle schoolers acknowledge 'cheese'
"Cheese" is not only dangerous. It's cheap. About $2 for a single hit and as little as $10 per gram. The drug can be snorted with a straw or through a ballpoint pen, authorities say. It causes drowsiness and lethargy, as well as euphoria, excessive thirst and disorientation. That is, if the user survives.
Authorities aren't exactly sure how the drug got its name "cheese." It's most likely because the ground-up, tan substance looks like Parmesan cheese. The other theory is it's shorthand for the Spanish word "chiva," which is street slang for heroin.
By using the name "cheese," drug dealers are marketing the low-grade heroin to a younger crowd -- many of them middle schoolers -- unaware of its potential dangers, authorities say.
"These are street dealers, dope dealers," Moncibais recently warned students at Sam Tasby Middle School. "They give you a lethal dose. What do they care?"
Moncibais then asked how many students knew a "cheese" user. Just about everyone in the auditorium raised a hand. At one point, when he mentioned that the United States has the highest rate of drug users in the world, the middle schoolers cheered.
"You know, I know being No. 1 is important, but being the No. 1 dopeheads in the world, I don't know whether [that] bears applause," Moncibais shot back.
Authorities say the number of arrests involving possession of "cheese" in the Dallas area this school year was 146, up from about 90 the year before. School is out for the summer, and authorities fear that the students, with more time on their hands, could turn to the drug.
'Cheese' as common a problem as pot School officials and police have been holding assemblies, professional lectures, PTA meetings and classroom discussions to get the word out about the drug. A public service announcement made by Dallas students is airing on local TV, and a hotline number has been created for those seeking assistance.
Drug treatment centers in Dallas say teen "cheese" addicts are now as common as those seeking help for a marijuana addiction. "It is the first drug to have even come close in my experience here," says Michelle Hemm, director of Phoenix House in Dallas.
From September 2005 to September 2006, Phoenix House received 69 "cheese" referral calls from parents. Hemm says that in the last eight months alone, that number has nearly doubled to 136. The message from the parents is always, "My kid is using 'cheese,' " she says.
Phoenix House refers them to detoxification units first, but Hemm says at least 62 teens have received additional treatment at her facility since last September.
Fernando Cortez Sr. knows all too well how devastating cheese heroin can be. A reformed drug user who has spent time in prison, Cortez had spoken to his children about the pitfalls of drug use. He thought his 15-year-old son was on the right track.
But on March 31, his boy, Fernando "Nando" Cortez Jr., was found dead after using cheese heroin.
"I should have had a better talk with him," he says. "All it takes is once. You get high once and you die, and that's what happened to my son."
He knows it's too late for his son. Now, he is using his son's story to help others.
"All I can do is try to help people now. Help the kids,
help the parents."
A certain drug has come into surface over the past year. A drug posing an almost instant death warrant. This drug makes a Heroine addict look like a kindred spirit. It received its unique slang term from the stomach churning effects of user's skin scaling and peeling until the epidermis is of no superficial value. It runs hard in Russian streets as the main ingredient codeine is sold over the counter. It's this feasible counterpart that is semi-synthesized into a more potent form resembling Morphine. Afterwards, it's hot needle magic served on the veins of the helpless. It has basically landed on the doorsteps of many poor driven Russian as the "anatomically" correct DESO-MORPHINE!
In 2009, Swansea drug agencies reported a 180 percent rise in heroin use, and it's visible on the city's streets. Early one morning we meet a young, homeless couple named Amy and Cornelius in a city centre alley. As heroin-addicted alcoholics, they're smack in the middle of two o f South Wales's most harrowing epidemics.